At the age of five, Steffi saw an UFO landing in the car park of the local bank. Of course, the UFO might just have sprung from the imagination of a lonely child missing her best friend who had recently moved away. But Steffi’s older sister Carrie saw it, too. Or did she?
Now an adult, Steffi is an astronomer working at a facility searching the depth of space for the extraterrestrial life she knows must exist. Because she saw it, when she was five, even if no one wants to believe her. And Carrie saw it, too, even if she never talks about it. But it takes a data readout with far-reaching implication to persuade Steffi that maybe she should talk to her estranged sister again about what happened on that autumn day so many years ago…
A bumper edition of two interlinked science fiction stories about two sisters and their contact with aliens and with each other.
Read an excerpt.
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- “He has come back to me…” is 3450 words long and was first published in Alien Worlds No. 20. “Contact Renewed” is 1150 words long and was first published in Alien Worlds No. 29. Both stories are interconnected and feature the same characters, albeit at a distance of twenty-five to thirty years, so they are now presented in a bumper edition.
- “He has come back to me…” was quite literally inspired by a very vivid dream of a flying saucer landing on the parking lot behind the bank near my parents’ house. It is one of my oldest finished stories, written when I was twenty. The published version, however, has been significantly revised.
- The lady Steffi and Carrie meet on the street was an alien princess exiled to Earth and then returning to reclaim her throne in an epic space opera adventure. At the time, I made up quite a bit of the history of that space kingdom and their struggles. None of that ever made it into the story, though.
- Steffi and her best friend Max were named after two dolls I had as a child.
- When I was a child, I loved playing with earthworms as much as Steffi does in the story. I actually did use earthworms as tinsel for a make believe Christmas tree and I also built a house out of pebbles for them.
- Low flying military jets were quite common where I grew up. They were incredibly loud, but also terrified me, because I always thought they would drop bombs on us. So it’s not surprising that Carrie mistakes the UFO for a low flying jet at first.
- Carrie’s remark that aliens like kidnapping people, particularly little sisters, is a reference to The X-Files where Fox Mulder’s obsession with all things alien was caused by aliens kidnapping his little sister Samantha.
- “Contact Renewed” was written for a creative writing workshop I attended at university. I don’t remember the exact assignment, but for some reason I decided to reuse the characters from “He has come back to me…”
- The cover image is a shot of the field and the bank parking lot (now long defunct) near my parents’ house, where the UFO landed in the dream that inspired the original story. It is no longer possible to get the exact shot from my parents’ garden, because of houses that have been built in the meantime, but this is a pretty good approximation of the original view. Indeed I shot this photo just before another house was due to be built which would have blocked the view forever. If you look closely, you can see piles of soil dug up for the building work, though I erased piles of scaffolding and building equipment from the photo by the magic of Photoshop. I also trimmed down the trees a little, because they have grown quite a bit, since I had that dream.
- The girl in the photo is the daughter of my parents’ neighbours. The flying saucer is another Photoshop creation.